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Lucy Crawford.

The history of the White Mountains, from the first settlement of Upper Coos and Pequaket online

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was said her countenance was fair and pleasant ;
not a bruise or a mark was discovered upon her.
It was supposed she was drowned. She had
only a handkerchief around her waist — supj)osed
for the purpose of having some one to lead her
by. This girl was not far from twelve years of
age. She had acquired a good education, con-
sidering her advantages, and she seemed more
like a gentleman's daughter, of fashion and af-
fluence, than the daughter of one who had locat-
ed himself in the midst of the mountains. It is
said the earliest flowers are the soonest plucked,
and this seemed to be the case with this young,
interesting family ; the rest of the children were
not inferior to the eldest, considering their age.
In this singular act of Providence, there were
nine taken from time into eternity — four adult
])crsons and five children. It should remind
us, we who are living, to " be also ready, for
in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man
cometh." It was a providential thing, said Zara
Cutler, Esq., who was present afterwards, that
the house itself was saved, so near came the
overwhelmning avalanch. The length of the
slides are several miles down the side of the
mountain. The other three children, one a
daughter, and the other two sons, have never to
this day been found ; not even a bone has ever
been picked up or discovered. It is supposed
they must have been buried deep, underneath
an avcrlanch.



wHiTi; Mou^'TAI^{s. 101

Mr. and Mrs. Willey sustained good and re-
spectable characters, and were in good standing
among the Christians in Conway, where they be-
longed. They were remarkable for their chari-
ties and kindness towards others, and command-
ed the respect of travellers and all who knew
them. iMuch more could be said in their favor,
but it would be superfluous to add. Suffice it to
remark that the whole intention of their lives
was to live humbly, walk uprighdy, deal justly
whh all, speak evil of none.

Then came a large slide down back of the
house in a direction to take the house with it,
and when within ten or fifteen rods of the house
it came against a solid ledge of rock and here
stopped and separated, one on either side of the
house, taking the stable on one side, and the
family on the other — or they might have got to
the rcndesvous ; but there is no certainty which
of these divisions overtook them, as they were
hurried partly by the three slides which had
come together eighty rods from the house ; the
two that separated back of the house here met,
and a still larger one had come down in the
place where Mr. Willey had hunted out a refuge
for safety. AVhen tlie slide was coming down
and separatmg, it had great quantities of timber
with it ; one log, six feet long, and two feet
through, still kept its course, and came within
three feet of the house ; but fortunately it was
stopped by coming against a brick, where it
rested ; the ends of trees were torn up, and
looked similar to an old peeled birch broom. —
The whole valley, which was once covered with
9^



102 HISTORY OF THE

beautiful tjrecn grass, was now a complete f|uag-
mire, exhibitini' nothino; but ruins of tlic moun-
tains, heaps of timber, large rocks, sand and
gravel. All was dismal and desolate. For a
monument, I wrote with a piece of red chalk,
on a plained board, this inscription :

The Family found here.

I nailed it to a dead tree, which was standing
near the place where they were found ; but
since it has been taken away by some of the oc-
cupants of the house and used for fuel.

But to return to my own affairs at home : —
Fences mostly gone — farm in some places cov-
ered so deeply with sand and gravel that it was
ruined ; and, on the intervale, was piled in great
and immense quantities, floodwood, in difierent
places all over it. The bridge now lay in pieces
all around the meadow, and the shed also ;
there was a large field of oats, just ready to
harvest, from which I think I would have had
four or six hundred bushels — these were destroy-
ed ; and some hay in the field was destroyed. —
My actual loss at this time was more than one
thousand dollars ; and truly things looked rather
unfavorable. After the fire, we had worked
hard and economised closely to live and pay
our former dues, which we made slow progress
in ; as it was necessary for the benefit of the
public, I had to buy so many things, which we
could not get along without, 1 could do but little
towards taking up my old notes, but still I must
persevere, and keep doing while the day lasted ;
and I thought no man would be punished for be-



WHITE MOUNTAINS. 103

ing unfortunate. Therefore, taking tliesc tilings
into consideration, I would still continue to do the
best I could and trust the event. My father suf-
fered still more than myself. The best part of
his farm was entirely destroyed. A new saw
mill which he had just put up, and a great num-
ber of logs and boards, were swept away to-
gether into the sand ; fences on the intervale
were all gone ; twenty-eight sheep were drown
ed, and considerable grain which was in the field
was swept away. The water rose on the out-
side of the house twenty-two inches, and ran
through the whole house on the lower floors,
and swept out the coals and ashes from the
fire place. They had lighted candles which
were placed in the windows, and my mother
took down a pole which she used as a clothes
pole, and stood at a wmdow near the corner of
the house, when the current run swift, and
would push away the timber and other stuff that
came down against the house, to keep it from
collectinof in a creat body, as she thouirht it
might jam up and sweep away the house ; for
the water was rising fast. And while thus en-
gaged, she was distressed by the cries of the
poor bleating and drowning sheep that would
pass by in the flood, and seemed to cry for help,
but none could be afforded.

My father at this time was from home, and
but few of the family were there, so they made
the best they could of it. This came on so sud-
den and unexpected that almost every thing in
the cellar was ruined, and a part of the wall fell
in.



104 HISTORY OF THli

This loss of my father's property, which ha
liad accumulated only by the sweat of his brow,
was so great that he will never be likely to re-
gain it. Many suffered more or less who lived
on this wild and uncultivated stream, as far as
Saco.

We had now a difficulty which seemed almost
insurmountable. The road in many places was
entirely gone ; the bridges, the whole length of
the turnpike, excepting two, a distance of seven-
teen miles, gone ; the directors came and looked
at it, and found it would take a large sum to re-
pair it. The good people of Portland, however,
to encourage us, raised fifteen hundred dollars
to help us with ; it was put into the hands of
Nathan Kinsman, Esq. to see it well laid out.
The Directors voted to raise an assessment on
the shares, to make up the balance ; and that,
with some other assistance, was divided into jobs
and let out, and we all went to work ; and, as it
was said, the sun shone so short a time in this
Notch, that the hardy New Hampshire boys
made up their hours by moonlight.



CHAPTER IX.

We got aloncr much better with this work than
we expected. We were favored with good
weather, and had a decent sleigh path for the
winter. This great and wonderful catastrophe,
ivhich happened among the mountains, caused
a great many this fall to visit the place. Among
others there came two gentlemen for the pur-
pose of going up to the mountain and visiting
the slides, to ascertain the qualities of naked
mountains, as they were in search of minerals.
We found on the west side of Mount Pleasant,
the largest slide ; it appeared one thousand acres
in dimension had slide off and rested in the val-
ley below. We wandered about, looking at the
wonderful works of God, until night overtook
us, and then on a ridge of the hill, near the
Amanoosuc, by the side of a large pile of flood-
wood, I built a camp, or wigwam, which was
sufficiently large for us then. I cut my wood,
struck a fire, and we each took our blanket and
retired to rest. As might be expected, the night
at this season of the year was long and cold ; a
thick mist of rain came on, and our quarters be-
ing small they complained of the cold and want
of room. I arose, renewed my fire, and spread
my blanket on them, and retired, myself, to a
thick fur tree, under whose boughs I took shelter
and soon fell asleep ; being very tired, and now



106 BISTORT OP THii

having plenty of room, and fueling my compan-
ions were more comfortable, 1 slept till morning.
When I returned to my companions they were
gladdened to see the light of another day. I
have been over and around the mountains in al-
most every direction with botanists and Avith
minerologists. I have been up and down all the
slides of any magnitude, and have taken pains
to find out if there were any minerals of value
there, but have never as yet found any of con-
Bcquence.

It has been supposed by some that there were
valuable mines some where about the moun-
tains. I have searched for these also, but found
none. I recollect a number of years ago,
when cpiite a boy, some persons had been up on
the hills and said they had found a golden treas-
ure, or carbuncle, which they said was under a
large shelving rock, and would be difficult to ob-
tain, for they might fall and be dashed to j)ieces.
Moreover they thought it was guarded by an
evil spirit, supposing that it had been placed
there by the Jndians, and that they had killed
one of their number and left him to guard the
treasure, which some credulous, superstitious
persons believed, and they got my father to en-
gage to go and search for it ; provided them-
selves with every thing necessary for the busi-
ness and a sufficient number of good men and a
minister well qualified to lay the evil spirit,
they set out in good earnest and high spirits antic
ipating with pleasure how rich they should be iii
coming home laden with gold ; that is, if they
should have the good luck to find it, Thev set



WHitE MOUNTAINS. 107

GUI and wont up Dr\' river, and had hard work
to find their way through the thickets and over
the hills, where they made diligent search for a
number of days, with some of the former men
si)okcn of for guides, but they could not find the
place again, or anything that seemed to be like
it, until worn out with fatigue and disappoint-
ment, they returned ; and never since, to my
knowledge, has any one found that wonderful
place again, or been troubled with the mountain
spirit.

I have heard it said by the people of Ports-
mouth, that when children were at play and
happened to fall out with each other, the worst
punishment they could inflict upon their mates
Was to wish them up to the White Hills, as that
was, considered the worst place in the world bv
them. Perhaps their minds had been affected
by the story of Nancy, who perished in the
woods in attempting to follow her lover. She
had been at work in Jefferson for Colonel Whip-
ple, when the heart of this honest girl was won
by a servant of his ; and as he was going in the
fall to Portsmouth, he promised to take her along
with him, and after they should arrive there, he
would make her his wife. She was honest her-
self and thought him to be also ; and he had
contrived every means to please her in all their
domestic concerns which they were engaged in,
while under the control of the Colonel, and she
had entrusted him with her money, which had
been paid her for her labor, and she went to
Lancaster to make preparations for the intended
journey ; T;\'hile she was preparing, her lover



108 HISTORY OF THE

went away with the Colonel and left her behind.
She was immediately informed of his treachery,
and was determined to pursue him. There had
been a deep snow and there was no road — noth-
ing but spotted trees, besides the tracks of the
Colonel and her false lover to follow. When
she arrived at Jefferson she was wet with snow
which had collected upon her clothes, and was
wearied. The men that w^ere there tried to per-
suade her not to go any farther, setting forth the
many difficulties she would have to encounter,
and likewise the danger she would be exposed
to in such an undertakins;, through a howlino-
wilderness of thirty miles, without fire or food.
All these entreaties did not move her, or alter
her determination ; for such was her love either
for the man w^hom she had placed her affections
upon, or the money she had placed in his hands,
that she was inflexible ; and having a great opin-
ion of her own ability, in her immagination she
thought as they had only been gone some hours,
and would probably go no further than the
Notch that night, and -would probably camp
there, she might, by travelling all night, over-
take them before they started in the morning. —
In this she was disappointed ; they had left be-
fore she arrived ; but from every appearance
the fire had not gone out. It may be inquired
how it w^as known that the fire had not gone
out there ? When a fire is made in the w'oods,
it is made of very large wood, cut and rolled
together, and them left to burn, as was evidently
the case here, and there will be brands left at
each end of the fire. These brands she had
put together, and they burnt out as the ashes



WHITE MOUNTAINS. lOi)

plainly showed for themselves \vh(?n the me:'!
found them. She was tired and worn out will'
fatigue and hunger, having taken nothing wit^t
her to eat on the wa}'. Yet her passion was noL
abated, and she still persevered, thinking sh''
should overtake them. She went on and got a
distance of twenty-two miles, when the me-:t»
thinking she was in earnest, followed her.— -
When she set off in the afternoon, they though*
she would not go far before she would come?
back, and they waited until late in the evening,
expecting every moment to hear the sound of
her footsteps at the door ; but in vain did they
imagine this. They pressed on and found the
fire in the situation just described, which made
them think she foimd fire to warm her benumbei'
limbs. Here they rested only a short time and
then proceeded and found her just after crossinr^
a brook, in a sitting position, with her cloth? -
frozen upon her — having wet them while cro.^s-
ing the brook, and her head was resting on her
hand and cane which had been her support
through the woods, and she was frozen to deaths
This place is near my father's, and has ever
since, from that circumstance, borne the name of
Nancy's Brook, and Nancy's Hill.

" Now in this volume let me build n tomb
For Nancy, love's sweet victim, in her bloom.
Her tragic end, though awful to relate,
Shows how true love controls a woman's fate 1
Oh ! had she early given her heart to God,
Perhaps she had not felt the chaster.in^ rod.
But let us trust her sins are all forgiven,
And with bev Saviour, that she rests in Heaven."

[J. C. N. L
10



110 HISTORY OF THE WHITE MOUKTAINS.

The reader would perhaps like to know what
became of her lover. Shortly after hearing of
this, his own conscience was smitten and he be-
came frantic and insane, and was put into the
hospital, where he in a few months after, died
in a most horrible condition. This is a true story,
, as I have heard it told by those who were know-
ing to the facts, as related in the above statement,.



CHAPTER X.

October 14th, there came a gentleman from
Germany to ascend the mountains. I provided
him with a good guide, and they set out early in
the morning, knowing they must return that
evenino;, as there was no place for them to stay
on their way over night. I waited for their re-
turn until nine o'clock in the evening, and feel-
ing anxious for them, fearing they might be lost,
as there had come down in the flood a large
quantity of timber and filled up the path, so that
it was difficult of finding it, not far from the en-
trance of the woods ; and I did not know but
they might be lost in this place, as it would be
dark before they could arrive there ; and well
knowinn; the night must be lono; cold and tedi-
ous, in their destitute situation, I took a lantern
and my long tin horn, mounted a horse and pro-
ceeded to the woods, where I alighted and then
commenced blowing the horn, and it was soon
answered by the guide. I took my light and
steered towards the sound of his voice ; there I
found them completely lost — not more than a
quarter of a mile from the open ground. —
When they came here it was dark and the guide
had been there many times before this, and
knew the way well, yet the darkness bewildered
him so much that it was in vain he tried to get
.«ut, and when satisfied he could not, he groped



i 13 HUTORY OF THE

1:13 way about in the dark, and had broken some
boughs lo he down upon, without a blanket, and
no other covering than the canopy of Heaven to
cover them ; destitute of food, and not hav-
ing the means of making a fire, they had made
lip their minds to spend tne night in this nncom-
fortable situation, when the joyful sound of the
horn caught their ears. I soon put them in a
way to get Ubcrated from this place, and when
ihey came to the horse, I helped the gentleman
on his bacl^, and then we all came home : and a
;nore grateful man than this I scarce over saw.
vVhen arrived at the house, and finding his situ-
.ilion changed from that cold and lonesome one
.0 a good warm fire and supper, and then the
• xpectation of a good bed, it almost overcame
J.'im.

The winter of 1827, I i^pent much like the
•brmer winter seasons ; buying and laying in a
s'ill larger share of provisions than usual, for
llio benefit of those who shoujd need while at
vvork on the road, and for the purpose of assist-
y.ig the weary traveller through the deep snows,
i'.nd over our rough roads.

In the spring I went to work on my mountain
road, as soon as tlie ground would permit, and I
made a road suitable for a carriage a distance of
i,ne and a half miles into the woods. We could
]iOW ride in a carriage from my house, three
miles, and our custom was at that tinie, to carry
visitors to the end of the road, and tlien return
vv'ith the carriage, and leave them io try their
^>wn strength from there up and back, and then
A\'« would be ready ihere on their return, to bring



WHITE MOUNTAINS. 113

fhem home again, I had intended to work on
this road every year, when I could, until I should
have completed it to the foot of Mt. Washington.
After reading the description given by Dr.
Park, and the other party of ladies, shortly after
their return, and finding their opinion was that it
could not be exactly fitting that ladies should at-
tempt such an arduous undertaking, all the ladies
that visited the mountain were more willing to
give up the idea of the ascent, although they
had as much curiosity to view and contemplate
things not made with hands ; and still they, in
general, possess an ambition to excel and attain
to such noble and romantic acts, for some energy
both of body and mind is required to perform
such an enterprise ; and there had never been
but four parties of ladies up the mountain since
I had come here to live, now ten 3-ears past, and
I had promised the ladies that whenever 1 could
make a road suitable for them to ride a part or
all of the way to the foot of the hill, I would
never, in good weather, discourage them from
going there, but I would go with them myself,
and assist them wherever it was necessary. I
had made a road to ride on part of the way, and
ladies began to take me to my word, and they
this summer began to ascend the mountain a-
gain, and whenever we had more company than
what belonged to any particular party, I would
furnish them with another guide, so that they
should not be troubled or hindered in the least.
They might go with us or by themselves, just as
the parties chose, and I spent this summer in
gomg up and down the mountain with mv friends,
10*



ill BISTORY OP THE

raid visiting the Notch and the desolate Willey
House, and in giving them as good an account of
v/hat took place on that memorable night of tho
uecond of August last, and answering all their
.enquiries as promptly and correctly as my hunx-
ble capacity and judgment would allow me to do.

It now becanie needful for the benefit of the
f.ompany, as it increased, to have an establish-
ment at the top of the Notch, as many wanted
io stop here and leave their horses, and pursue
their way down the hill on foot, and view the
(Cascades as they come majestically down the
hill, and over the rocks, and form such a beauti-
r'ul silvery sight. The flume, likewise, that is
'.'uriously cut out by Nature through a solid rock,
the avalanches, and then the Willey House, &c.
;md on their return they needed refreshment.
Now having a disposition to accommodate the
public, and feeling a little self-pride, to have
[mother Crawford settled here, to make up a
road, I consulted with my father, and we agreed
lo build there and place a brother of mine in the
!iouse. We accordingly made a plan upon the
l:est and most convenient construction we could
mvent, and in the fall, prepared timber for a
iVame, 120 feet in length, and 36 feet in Avidth :
iust as we were about to raise this, the snow fell
:v3 deeply that we were obliged to give it up for
the present time.

I think that it was this fall that a man from
Falmouth had been to Lancaster and bought
some fat sheep and oxen : he had a team of hor-
des and a wagon, and on his way home as he was
(;oming over Cherry Mountain, it had begun to



WHITE MOUIfTAINS. 115

mow : he arrived at my house, where he put up
for the night, and it continued to snow until it
had fallen two feet, and over : here he stayed
until it cleared away, and then he could not trav-<
el with his sheep, the snow was so deep, I then,
with him, began to contrive means to help him
along. We harnessed his horses, and put them
to a wagon, the oxen on forward of them ; but
this did not make a path sufficient for the sheep
to go in ; I then harnessed a horse and drove a
wedge into a short, large, round log, and put a
chain around this wedge, and led my horse, and
this log made a complete road for thern to go in,
single file, and in this way, we got along quite
well down into the Notch, a little way, when the
snow became thin : then he could go without my
assistance. I then left my log, mounted my
horse, and returned home, while the traveller
pursued his journey, without suffering much in-
convenience from the snow. It was no uncom-
mon thing for us to have two feet of snow, while,
in Bartlett, they would not have more than two
inches ; as we lived so high in the air, and the
mountains generally attract or hinder the storms,
we have snow, while others, who live not more
than twenty miles distant have rain and some-
times sunshine ; such is the variableness of the
weather where we then lived, still in the sum-
mer we generally had a good share of good and
clear weather, but Spring and Fall was the time
when we had most of these sudden changes.
Uncle William says, that in former days, when
they first went there to live, the snow would
sometimes be ten feet deep, and he has seen the



116 HISTORY OF THE

time, when they could drive a team of oxen and
horses any where in the field, on the crust, over
stumps and fences, and draw their wood homo
from any place they chose, wherever they could
best get it, as this hard crust made a smooth sur-
face for them to go on : had it not been for this,
they could not have got along where they did,
because it was rough and stumpy, and from such
little circumstances it seems that there is nothing
made in vain. I have seen the snow so deep
when 1 lived there, that it was difficult to pass
each other with teams, when they met, until they
would have to stamp down the snow, and make a
path for one of them to get out, and then some-
times they would have to unhitch their horses
and compel them to turn out, such was the depth
of snow ; and where there was a crust of it, it
was still more difficult. At one time when I was
coming home from Portland, with a loaded sleigh,
when I got up so far as my father's, it was snow-
ing, and there I baited my horses, and intending
to have come home that night, I came on as far
as the Notch-House, and there hired a man to
help me up the hill, with two horses ; we came
on part of the way, and the snow had got so
deep, that his horses would not work and we
were obliged to leave the sleigh and return to


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Online LibraryLucy CrawfordThe history of the White Mountains, from the first settlement of Upper Coos and Pequaket → online text (page 7 of 13)